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The Sanskrit Origin of the Word Entrepreneur

If someone asks you to define an entrepreneur, what would you say?  Most people I ask reply “someone who takes risks, sees an opportunity and thinks in an innovative way”.   And they would be right.

That is why, many people associate ‘entrepreneurship’ with starting a business, as starting a business requires these traits.

But what does the word entrepreneur actually mean?


When we look in some detail at the origins of the word, we can see that  it comes from the French word  ‘entreprendre’.

Entreprendre  means ‘to undertake’

I believe there is no greater undertaking than your life’s purpose.

What raises the hairs on the back of my neck even more is when we look at the etymology of the word entrepreneur.  The word is based on the Sanskrit phrase ‘Antha Prerna’, which in translation means ‘self-motivated’.

When we consider how an entrepreneur thinks and behaves you can see that they need to be highly motivated and single-minded in their approach to life.

Recently I positioned a question on Facebook about the perceptions we all have of what an entrepreneur is, and does.

I asked  “What is the difference between being an entrepreneur and a business person?” Here are some of the responses:

“Entrepreneur means to do. So someone who 'does stuff' and then a business person is someone who is in business. Tea break over”Dan Chambers

“Entrepreneurs seek opportunity, Businessmen [sic] and Investors seek profit” James ‘Jimbo’ Sinclair

“It is all semantics, and those that over obsess on their ’title’ tend to be the ones who don't actually get out there and do anything. Visionary entrepreneur, rainmaker, blah blah" tends to mean Herbalife salesman with his mum and two mates in his downline”... – Carl Reader

“Entrepreneur is someone driven/ called by delivering their purpose and gift to the world for the greater good. Their mindset is all about 'how may I serve you with my gift and value and purpose' creating a better and extraordinary future, a legacy for future generations and money comes as a result. ?A business person provides a service, however valuable, for money. Sometimes through no fault of their own, simply lack an awareness of their main purpose in life.”  – Vanessa Louise Moore

“Entrepreneur starts the ball rolling, Business Person funds it and keeps it going.’ - Frederick Burke

“Opportunity to grow themselves v Opportunity to make profits”Andy Harding

“An entrepreneur uses divergent thinking to create possibilities. A business person uses convergent thinking to deliver outcomes”Colin Newlyn

“Entrepreneurs have a visionary mindset, are eager to build a big business starting small...business owner owns a business....not necessarily an expansion vision...different!” - Pauline Crawford-Omps

“Entrepreneurs create scalable businesses through innovation and teams, a business person transacts business through deal sourcing, negotiation and other activities. Entrepreneurs can be business people and vice versa. But they can also be separate”– Victoria Walker

"Entrepreneur - A person that identifies opportunities and risks in diverse areas of the economy and set up a business or businesses from them. Business Person - A person that works in a business for a profit. An entreprenuer can also be a business person or employ a business person to manage the business for him" - Pst Sunday Jolayemi

"Entrepreneur: Richard Branson, Business Person: Owns the dry cleaners around the corner" - Sunil Patel

"Entrepreneur is someone who runs or creates multiple businesses very successfully. A business person is someone who runs one company well or not well or many companies reasonable. Great success (in a variety of guises) with a variety of ventures is what creates an entrepreneur not just a wish or money to start things." - Carolyn Williams 

These are all interesting answers and what is most interesting of all is that entrepreneurship is much more than making a profit, and that we distinguish between the role of business person and the role of the entrepreneur.  

And this strengthens the fact that the word entrepreneur describes someone who is highly self-motivated.

So I stand by my view that, if we encourage more people to be entrepreneurs, and for more people to think in an entrepreneurial way, more people will be empowered to create a life they desire.

That can only be a good thing  Do you agree?

Baiju Solanki

Baiju Solanki

Founder & CEO EnSpirit Global


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